Tour to Lake Natron and to the site where pink flamingos usually nest
27 e 28 August 2013
The region of Lake Natron is interesting for landscapes and for the geological features of the Rift Valley, dominated by volcanoes and rocks resulting from the solidification of different types of lava. With a little luck (but it wasn't our case) it could be possible to observe millions of pink flamingos during nesting, an unforeseeable event that happens in favorable years only (in any case, a tour to Lake Natron is an interesting diversion to distract a couple of days by lions and gazelles, so you will not waste your time because the place is beautiful).
Approaching the Lake Natron, along the dusty track that connects it to the Serengeti, a view of the lake itself and of the expanses of salt and soda present along the banks slowly opens.
Compared to the parks of northern Tanzania, the landscape in the region of Lake Natron radically changes and everything looks much more arid.
The track between Lake Natron and Arusha runs through remains of ancient volcanoes and calderas.
The volcanic soil characterizes the region that includes Lake Natron.
Lake Natron area is home to many Adenium obesum
, a succulent caudiciform plant (caudiciform means that the base of the trunk is enlarged to accumulate water to be used during dry periods) that produces beautiful flowers in shades of pink.
Reaching the shores of Lake Natron, the Ol Doinyo Lengai ("Mountain of God" in the local Maasai language) dominates the landscape with its 2882 meters of altitude. The peculiarity of this volcano is to produce lava Natro-carbonatitic rather cold (about 500 degrees centigrade) and very liquid.
The walk inside the canyon is not particularly difficult or tiring, although one must cross the river several times (in the dry season the water generally arrives at the knees) or it may be necessary to help ourselves with hands between the rocks.
In less than an hour, the walk is rewarded with the arrival to Ngaresero waterfalls and to the natural pool below.
Ngaresero picture. The water is not too cold, so a swim in the natural pool below the waterfall is pleasant and enjoyable.
A tour around the shores of Lake Natron offers a landscape dominated by the volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai.
The Natron lake view is not optimal because of the haze formed mainly by dust, but the banks still offer the chance to spot some flamingos and wildebeest grazing along the shores, as well as herds of donkeys bred by the Masai.
Lake Natron pictures. The primary purpose of this tour to Lake Natron, would have to be to observe the reproduction of flamingos during the breeding season, when this area see about 2.5 million of breeding flamingos. Observing this phenomenon, however, is not simple because it doesn't happens every year and it is said that the site chosen is not always sufficiently close to the accessible areas of the lake. Unfortunately we were not lucky enough to be able to see the spectacle of nesting flamingos, but the tour in lake Natron has still offered the opportunity to enjoy unusual landscapes that do not exist in other parts of the world.
Hiking around Natron lake over world of salt (Nikon 10.5 fisheye).
We observe a pink flamingo egg that never hatched, in which you can still see the "prototype" of the chick.
Photos of Natron lake. The shores of Lake Natron covered with a thick crust of salt.
A group photo.
Natron lake photos. The salts of Lake Natron deposited along the banks dried up by drought.
During the tour to Lake Natron we are staying at the Lake Natron Tented Camp, one of the few facilities in the region. It should be noted that the level of this structure is below the average of the lodges found in national parks of Tanzania although, in our opinion, it does not lack any comfort.